Rewatching Supernatural episodes from the beginning of season 9 has been an eye-opening experience for me. Personally, I had not realized how very different Sam and Dean felt and acted before life-changing events soon crush them. It is frankly refreshing to see them smile and talk to each other. Their body language is relaxed and hopeful. They have conversations, not fights. They live together, instead of bristling at the sight of each other (first Sam when he resented Dean’s decision, then Dean when he resented Sam’s interference with the desired killing spree). When I watched it happening for the first time, I couldn’t have realized the immense impact of Gadreel's betrayal, or three crucible moments: Sam learning he had been possessed (by a murderer), Kevin being killed, and Dean (in desperate guilt) taking on the Mark of Cain. For now, I am thoroughly enjoying the pre-betrayal Sam, Dean and Cas. I am happy to watch their innocence for a few more weeks. From the observations of the rest of the Winchester Family Business writing team, I think they agree.
There were so many wonderful messages in this episode. I really enjoyed it. Layers upon layers in everyone’s dialogue. It advanced many of the season’s storylines (namely, reopening Heaven’s gates, the war to control Hell, Castiel’s humanity and addiction) while still sharing a generous number of heart-warming moments between Sam and Dean, Dean and Cas and in Castiel’s acceptance of himself.
The footnotes in the Angel Tablet contain references to angels falling, yet the writers didn’t really do anything with all those angel tablet leads. At this point in the episode, I suspect that storyline will be restarted in season 10 (my opinion was shaken a bit later in the episode, as I discuss below)
I am shocked every time Kevin appears in an episode. Really. His first scene in the past few episodes jolted my mind. Everything seems so normal, like the first half hour in a disaster movie. I hadn’t realized how completely I had accepted the post-Kevin reality.
Dean to Cas: “So? I’ve never had powers.” Foreshadowing, or just a lucky line? Dean will soon have powers that he will perhaps wish he didn’t have.
Cas: “The ebb and flow of human emotion – Dean, I’ve been on earth for a few years and I’ve only begun to grasp it.” Our interpretation of shows is always filtered by the events in our own lives – our current mood, worries, etc. Tonight I was particularly struck by the theme of the struggle that teens endure as they try to understand the ebb and flow of their own emotions. That distraught girl that got jilted in front of the whole school was overwhelmed with embarrassment and humiliation. Castiel’s experience with human emotions is also very pubescent. He watched strangers to learn behaviors. He misinterpreted Nora’s intentions (although she was completely obtuse in the signals she was sending him) and was embarrassed, disappointed and hurt by his mistake. His confession to the baby revealed how overwhelmed he felt. This entire study of emotions seemed like a reflection on the heartache and confusion that is typical of a teen’s journey to understand themselves and the world around them.
How does Crowley know ancient languages? Is he that old? I don’t think demons are granted brilliance when they turn demonic, because the show has a long history of exposing, ridiculing then killing off really stupid bad guys. Is this another clue that Crowley is something other than a smart demon that has risen through the ranks of Hell?
There’s a demonic switchboard operator?
OHHH! I never caught how unbelievably perfect the words of Castiel’s lullaby reflect Cas’ life!!
“Look at what’s happenin’ to me. I can’t believe it myself” – Cas is revealing his own amazement at becoming human, being homeless, finding stability in a minimum-wage job, making friends, and letting go of his former identity.I bow in amazement to Robbie Berens for finding a song that so perfectly characterized Castiel’s situation.
“Believe it or not, I’m walking on air. I never thought I would be so free.” – For the first time he doesn’t have to worry about angelic duties, saving the world or winning a war for heaven. His largest worry is filling the Slurpee machine.
“Flying away on a wing and a prayer. Who could it be? Believe it or not, it’s just me”. – What better words for an angel?? Foreshadowing that the new, humble Castiel is going to get his wings back and will be able to fly away on a wing and the prayers of humans?
Cas’ speech to the baby again struck me to be like the empathetic consolation of a parent to a teen or young adult who is trying to survive on their own for the first time.
“Nobody told you. Nobody explained. You’re just…shoved out kicking and screaming into this human life, without any idea why any of it feels the way it feels, or why this confusion, which feels like it’s a hair’s breadth from terror or pain. You know, just when you think you do understand, it’ll turn out you’re wrong. You didn’t understand anything at all. Guess that’s just how it is when you’re new at this. You know, it wasn’t that long ago when all I’d need to do to ease your pain was touch you.”Wow, no deep secret where my head is at right now!
Dean to Cas: “I’m proud of you.” Dean said that to the two most important people in his life this season. Foreshadowing we couldn’t have seen before?
This time I believed and agreed with Sam’s judgment that Crowley was telling the truth when he said the angels couldn’t be put back into heaven. I am surely being influenced by the fact that the rest of the season didn’t focus on the angel tablet solving the angel’s problems. Maybe they’re just teasing this for next season…but then they destroyed the angel tablet, and need a prophet to fix it…I leave you with that thought.
My takeaway: As much as the dysfunction between Sam and Dean was a theme this season, so was “I’m proud of you.” Dean said it to Cas in this episode when talking about the way Cas adjusted to being human. It’s a direct contrast to the mocking he was doing when he first saw Cas, telling his friend he’s above working at a gas station. I think Dean’s first words were a reaction to Cas not being involved in the big scale war that is still so much of Dean’s focus.
But Dean doesn’t really devalue a normal life for either its joys or its sorrows, so he’s sincere when he tells Cas he’s proud that Cas is looking for the best and handling the worst as a human.
And in true Supernatural fashion, as Dean is telling Cas to go live a human life, Cas is reviewing all he’s learned this episode and realizing he is still an angel at heart. He spends the first part of the episode experiencing human emotions and the second part of the episode realizing he, like Dean, is still involved in the big picture. Ephraim asks Cas if he’s an angel or a human, because he thinks Cas’s choice to try and live as a human means he’s given up.
He’s mistaken. Cas needed to experience humanity so he could learn empathy, because empathy is not an angel trait. And shepherds need empathy. This was an important episode in Cas’ journey as a leader, because this is when he really knew he wanted to be an angel, even if singing lullabies to babies is a joy. He can keep the joy in his memory and be a better angel for it.
Cas’ journey this season really resonates with Sam’s, as he tries to live a normal life and ignore the cosmic war. Dean even tells Cas to choose to remain human, and he and Sam will fix heaven. But Cas cannot ignore his past or his family, whether Winchester or angel. He cannot live as Steve. He is Cas, the angel who cares too much, who is special.
Sam and Crowley were a joy to watch together. I like the way they play cat and mouse, each warily eying the other and trying to guess the next move. Crowley and the Winchesters know each other well, which in an odd way makes them close. I think Crowley is genuinely fond of the boys, though he would betray them in an instant. This episode reminded me it was really not a huge step for Dean to turn to Crowley or for Crowley to eulogize Dean and mean it. And next season should be really exciting as Sam hunts down Crowley in earnest. I just wish we didn’t know Sam didn’t do this in season 8, even though he suspected Crowley knew what had happened to Dean. Sam had options. He just didn’t take them. That remains a thorn in my side about the story.
And speaking of Sam and Dean, I also loved Sam’s “I should be with you” when he realizes Dean’s on a real case. Even after “The Purge,” Sam never loses this belief. It’s as much of a thread as “I’m proud of you.”
I thought when Dean first spoke to Cas in the gas station, that grin was pure Jensen. Not often I see Jensen in an episode rather than Dean. I suspect it’s a remnant of Jensen teasing Misha mercilessly in this scene.
I also thought Cas singing to the baby and the first couple lines in the chair were pure Misha rather than Cas. Adorable Misha, of course. But I didn’t think Cas’s voice came out until part way through the speech in the chair.
Loved Dean both big brothering and mothering Cas to make him successful on his date. “Are you wearing that?” Shades of my teenage!
This is, in general, a pretty good, solid episode and I really wish it had been 9.03 (or at least this writer had done that one) rather than what we got. Had this episode (or at least its stronger themes and tighter storytelling) been earlier I think it would have established a stronger foundation for the season as a whole. For example, Dean’s treatment of Cas in this episode makes sense if you take this episode by itself, otherwise it makes Dean look inconsistently moody. Other indications this isn’t quite Dean in this episode? The medic angel doesn’t zero in on what has traditionally been our lovable ball of self-loathing and pain. Seriously, one would think zeroing in on Cas’ pain with Dean nearby would be like trying to pick out a tuba playing during a monster truck rally.
Some moments SEEM like they’re setting up for later story reveals but if you look at it closely, it’s like praising a marksman for hitting a target with a grenade – the strokes are broad or generic enough they can’t help but “hit”. All in all looking back through it, the season starts to take on the feeling of the writers at war with each other – or at least a struggle between those trying to bring up the quality against those dragging it down.
I still don't get why they keep the angel's face hidden.
Cas' alias is "Steve"? Hmm... who had 2 thumbs & said he should pick that name for his martyr complex? #thisguy
Oh Kevin... you should have become the new Bobby full time.
I give the props department kudos for what they did with the "exploding" victims and the set.
I'm surprised this guy didn't wipe out most of the population of tween girls.
And we're back with the richest source of Destiel fuel not seen since S5.
SERIOUSLY Dean & Cas' scene is performed like 9.03 [“I’m No Angel”] never happened. One wonders if Berens was giving the metaphorical finger to BB&ERL [Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming, the writers for 9.03].
How did Crowley learn a dead language when he was alive in the 1700s?
Stupid reaper plot mentioned - take a drink. I mean seriously you act like nothing else happened in 9.03, why mention the worst part of it?
But the set dressing guys DID mess up in not decorating the grass next to the bus. :(
It's kind of weird the medic angel just went right to killing instead of TRYING to heal people.
I'm impressed that recently arrived angels have mastered driving.
Seriously I hope they sterilized those needles in the bunker. It'd be darkly funny to see a hunter die to staph instead of ghost.
Did they really script the @mishacollins scene with the baby or did they just let him improvise?
"It's a fever." How about YOU HEAL THE BABY YOU [angelic] MEDIC!"
"Oops, your hand is broken. Here let me heal that."
Doubling Crowley's soul harvest... that makes one wonder in consideration of 9.17 [“Mother’s Little Helper”].
I'm still impressed Cas & Dean got the house cleaned up and the body buried before Mom got home. Seeing that would have brought in some of the comedy this season really needed.
I’m going to end our observations by offering the first comment on the article. I had so many of the same thoughts as Nate! The name Steve, the RitZien not healing the feverish baby, the clean house and so many others! I’m glad he mentioned them, though, instead of me. Gave me a great, long laugh this morning when I read them! How about you?
Dialog transcripts courtesy of www.superwiki.com.
Screencaps courtesy of www.homeofthenutty.com.